As the temperatures get cooler, rats and mice are looking for more warmth and food and most Australians make them welcome - without knowing it.

The major way to stop rats from getting inside is to simply block their access, the Field Biologist of one of Australia’s leading pest control companies, Rentokil Pest Control , Mr. Peter Lamond says.

“A rat can squeeze through a hole the size of a 10 cent piece and a mouse through one the diameter of a pencil but very few people check their homes to make sure all holes are blocked.

“And contrary to popular opinion, rats like most of Australia’s pet cats and dogs! The pets are all usually so well fed they cannot be bothered chasing the rats, and secondly, their leftover pet food is a major source of food for rats!” Lamond says.

According to Rentokil Pest Control, the numbers of rats in Australia has been rapidly escalating for the past four or five years.

There are two main types of rats that prove a nuisance in Australia – the ‘roof’ rat which eats mainly fruit and vegetables and the Norway or ‘brown’ rat, which loves garbage.

“In our work around Australia we bait or trap millions of rats and mice every year and their populations continue to flourish mainly through people’s lack of care or laziness to stop them,” Lamond says.

So what can we do to reduce the rat & mice risk this winter?

· Survey your house or business premises and check every nook and cranny to block their access, including ceilings

· Don’t leave out excess food in pet bowls, aviaries or chook sheds

· Keep all food stuffs in containers, well sealed

· Use traps to capture them

· Use baits, but remember they may die in places you don’t want them to – your ceiling for example

· Have an inspection by a reputable pest control company and get professional advice or support to reduce the risks or control them in your home or premises